the squeaky wheel

Well, after my little cry fest on Sunday Rory sent out an SOS to his family.  I knew this because my brother-in-law Kyle called me on Sunday evening and asked if he could take us all out to dinner on Tuesday night. I said, "did Rory tell you we're a bit of a mess?" "Yeah, something along those lines..."

So the call went out. Then I got a text from my friend Lindsay, a friend I haven't connected with in three whole years. And she asked if she could bring us a pot roast dinner for Monday night. She lives in Burnsville and came with her two little kids. I was so, so moved...she must have spent her entire day shopping, chopping, prepping and delivering. And the pot roast was incredible, as was our conversation while she was here. A friendship rekindled. What a gift!

In the mail that day I got a card from my friend Paige who just finished up seven months of chemotherapy for colon cancer. Paige has two young kids and has taught me SO MUCH about hope and gratitude and the goodness of God in the middle of hard, hard times. She sent a check for Rory and I to go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. The card, the gift, the sweet words from all made me cry.

And the week kept rolling just like that. I got a text from my friend Beth asking if I had a favorite eating establishment in town and then had a gift card sent. Rory's folks came out on Tuesday so that Rory and I could go shopping for a washing machine and it felt quite nice just to be out and about, doing something as lackluster as shopping for a washing machine. That night Kyle and Lisa took our clan to Carbones and it was a blast. Just fun to be out and about again, fun to go out for pizza with the kids.

Wednesday my mom came and I made pesto out of ALL THE BASIL I had saved from the frost on Friday night. If I never write about it again, you must try pesto with walnuts sometime. Pine nuts are just so expensive, but the walnuts were awesome. Then we canned the salsa I had made the day before. It felt good just to do some home stuff like this. We even braided all of our onions! I now have five darling bunches of onions, hanging from the ceiling downstairs. I told Mom that we can now file this under "added life skills."

The week went on. A friend brought us a spaghetti dinner. I was summoned for jury duty and laughed my head off, because the timing is crazy. My niece Madi brought our family Chick Filet last night, a FEAST of nuggets, lemonade, salads and sandwiches that she brought in warmer bags. My kids were over the moon and we ate like kings.

And yesterday the crew showed up to put the barn roof back on. Today at 2:00 they finished and drove away. We are beyond grateful that this is done because every time it rained we had to go up there and sweep all of the water towards the "drain" we cut through the floor at the front of the barn. It was a tedious, time-consuming, wet job. Now we have fans working to dry the place out.

But what a gift that it got done so quickly! It's only been two weeks since the tornado! Menards said that storm damage often gets jumped to the top of the list of production, and even though all of our pieces were custom order, they still got them here in 10 days!!! File that under 'things that are going right in the world!' (I think we could all agree that we could use more in that file...)

So we are doing way better. We were at a play date this morning with many other mom's who have had significant storm damage. It was a gift to be together to process and talk.

And now my folks are back and Dad is moving tree branches and my mom is sorting our laundry. And I am switching out summer clothes to winter clothes. Which seems to take me days to accomplish. Anyone else?!! But I'm getting there. I've finished Elsie's, Ivar's and my clothes. Next I'll switch out Alden and Hattie's. Talk about Friday goals!

So that's the latest. I am just beginning to write thank you notes, and they are an absolute joy to write. Every word of gratitude I am pouring into those cards is so deeply felt and I just want everyone to know it. Community, family, friends, neighbors and new friends. What a joy to be a part of each other's lives! I am overflowing with thanksgiving, a great place to find myself. (With occasional bouts of overwhelm and meltdowns, for good measure...)

falling apart a bit...

Well that whole day-is-over-when-the-sun-goes-down lasted a good few days. But every day it is getting darker so much earlier! So it was nice while it lasted. We'll still light candles in the evening. And Saturday night we lit the biggest candle of them all: the wood stove. It was the first fire of the season and there is nothing like it. That radiant heat is so good. Warms you all the way through.

In other news, I fell apart today.

I'm not completely sure why, but I have lots of ideas. And I'm pretty sure this has to do with that female spaghetti brain thing. Because none of these are related, and yet because I am living them, all of them are related.

I woke up this morning and told Rory that I needed to have our anniversary do-over date on the calendar so I have something to look forward to. He said he can't think more than a few days ahead or he is filled with anxiety, so he couldn't commit to anything. I get that. He has so many details to oversee right now and the stress load around here is very high. But I just wanted the date on the calendar. I'm afraid it will get lost in the mix.

We were supposed to be in St. Louis this weekend, resting by my aunt and uncle's pool. I was really looking forward to the undivided family time. It was a great disappointment to have to cancel.

Our kittens have a bad habit of climbing into the warm engine of our cars and then not getting out when they hear us loading up. I tragically killed two kittens in this horrific way just as I was to leave for a homeschool meeting at the beginning of the month. It was as awful as it sounds. Actually, more awful than you can imagine. And then this Thursday Rory told me casually that the black kitten, my favorite one and the most friendly, was in his truck engine when he left for Menards and he had already buried it in the ground. I cried and cried for that kitten. Rory is on overload, and his waffle-iron brain had already ran the equation: kitten in engine--> kitten's fault--> farm cats are not pets--> move on to next thing. But my spaghetti brain had eruptions at every site. The death of my favorite kitten tipped the scale for me.

And then this morning my goat wouldn't let me milk her. I made a mistake earlier this week and haven't been able to milk her ever since. It's sad. I'm so frustrated with myself.

So when we got to church a friend asked how I was and right there in the parking lot I began bawling like a baby. And I never really got it together. I wasn't certain exactly why I was crying. Mostly I think I am exhausted. I made a stupid little sight sitting there through all the songs, blowing my nose and wiping my eyes.

And I know these things are all just half of the truth. The other half is good and filled with goodness. Saturday we had another amazing work day. My folks and friends from church all came out on Saturday. Even a friend who had more damage on her property than we had on our own. She just wanted to help someone else for a while. A couple from the Catholic church came to help us, as well as three high school sisters who go to a Lutheran church in town. We had never met these volunteers before and they came and spent their Saturday chainsawing, hauling and building community on our farm. It was so good. Community feels so good.

And our farm is looking better and better. The helping hours logged are truly remarkable. We are grateful.

And this is true: We will celebrate our anniversary another time, we will reschedule our family vacation, kitten deaths really do suck and Darcy will eventually let me milk her again. It may just be in a year after she has her next babies. And I also can stop eating donuts. Because I ate many on Saturday and I think part of this mess of moods is due to a flat out sugar/gluten crash. But it's hard to turn down donuts when you're battling disappointment.

So that's the latest. I'll be fine. Somehow this experience has stirred up murky waters inside. I've had neighbors say the same thing and Rory and I feel it too. There's a general un-ease and sorrow hanging about. And we rejoice that all were kept safe and that our homes were kept from harm. But for some reason it still feels bad. And sad. Which is why I need to go to bed now.

the sun is down, the day is over.

We were without power for three nights and three full days after the tornado came through. And since our well house runs on electricity, we were without water as well.

I sort of loved it.

Actually, I totally loved it.  Friday night I looked out the window and realized I had about an hour of light left to clean my house for Saturday. I knew my aunts were coming and would be running my kitchen, so I had one hour to get my house ready. I worked hard. I kept looking out the window at the setting sun to see how much time I had left. Rory was gone, so at dusk I walked out to the barn and did the evening chores. When Ivar and Elsie and I got back inside, I lit a ton of tea light candles in mason jars and the day was over.

There was nothing else we could do because it was so dark. The flicker of candles was so peaceful and the conversation was so rich as we sat quietly and talked about the day.

I sent a picture of our lit candles to the Groves family and wrote: "I wonder what we will learn in heaven about dusk and how we are supposed to end our day when the sun sets. I anticipated the dark an hour before it arrived and hurried to be ready and prepared for it. And now that it is dark my day is completely over. Can't do anything. Better go to bed. Amazing."

Our power came back on late Sunday night. But Monday I pretended like it was still out when the sun began to set. I got the candles ready. I worked hard, watching the setting sun as my clock, and ended the day when it was too dark to work any longer.

The Bible promises that "He gives to his beloved rest." (Psalm 127)

I am pretty certain this is the gift he is giving us when the sun sets. We are just so quick to turn back on the lights.

Try it tonight. Be completely done with the day when it is dark and sit in candle light. You're going to love it.

so grateful

I wrote this text as an email to my friend Dorothy. I'm going to cut and paste it here because I am so exhausted. I can hardly see straight at the moment and need to go to bed....

Oh we are so thankful. Our hearts are full and touched by all of the help that showed up this weekend. And our hearts are heavy and hurting for all the loss around us. We lost six oak trees, each that was 200-300 years old. Huge, beautiful oaks. You can see the gap above our barn that used to be filled with two giant oaks, both twisted on the ground now. We have friends who lost nearly every tree on their acreage. And yet their home and garage are completely fine. It feels quite miraculous as none of our neighbors had major damage to their homes from falling tees. And yet everyone lost old, old oaks and hundreds of trees through the neighborhood.

The loss of landscape is so sad, but the truth is, Friday and Saturday turned into total parties. We never had a moment either day when there wasn't someone here. And we got so much done! Saturday we had 60 people come through, all ready to help or bringing food. Uncle Jake brought his cherry picker, Uncle Carl was on the barn building a temp roof with Rory over the stairwell, Aunt Louie and Aunt Annie brought enough lunch to feed 40, Sarah and Brooks and Jessica and Dan all came with kids and trucks were flying all around pulling out branches, moving loads to the massive burn pile. I had a friend from my homeschool group come with her family and her neighbor's came too. Our friend's Randy and Jake showed up and cut up oaks, hopped on the roof and pulled big branches with their 4 wheeler. The kids were all holding kittens and shucking corn for fun. That night we had the young adults from our church for 2 hours of help, a big shared lasagna meal and then we had barn worship in the upstairs under the stars. It was so great.

And the churches in our town have been incredible. Saturday morning I got a phone call from a friend Bonnie asking if she could bring a hot lasagna meal for dinner on behalf of Canvas Church. She said, "and how many are we feeding tonight?" I said, "well, we have six in our family..." And she said, "yes, but what about your help? Can I bring two pans of lasagna?" It was so amazing! Showed up and I was able to feed a crowd with salad and garlic bread and apple cider and brownies! 

Sunday we went to our good friends and neighbors who were the ones who lost nearly every tree. They are close friends and we decided to all stay home from church and have a house worship together on their porch. It was really special. We ate lunch together and talked through the next few days and it was just so good. And Rory and I got to take hot showers there because they had their water hooked up to the generator. Which was AMAZING. Then we came home, and I took a nap while Hattie and Alden napped. And when I woke up I was over it all. Total mood change. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. So tired. But Rory had big plans for us to lay poly sheeting on the barn floor together, getting it just so. And it wasn't our finest hour! It was our 13th wedding anniversary and I seemed to think we should be doing something a little less practical and a bit more romantic. But he is a good, wise farmer, pressing on until we have things set for the rain Monday night. 

In the end he took me to Culver's, but his parents (who were babysitting for us) saw the unflattering side of me. Tired, crabby, exhausted. And disappointed because we discussed how we can't go to St. Louis this weekend, as we had planned. So I was frustrated and bummed. And did I mention, tired? Though the power did come back on when they were here, which was great! We had gone 3 nights and 3 days without electricity or running water (toilets were the greatest challenge...)

Rory assures me we'll celebrate the big year number 13 another day. 
And now I'm off to bed.

Again, we are so grateful that we were kept safe, as well as all of our neighbors. We needed your prayers in that moment. I know that for certain. We just started saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. And he held us.

a very scary night

There are many in our town who lost their entire barn. Many who lost many of their out buildings. This is just our property and what happened to us. I walked down our road today and saw all of our neighbor's trees on the ground and then I got very emotional. It's hard to have this happen. I still haven't heard for sure if it was a tornado, but I think it had to have been. It doesn't really was so destructive.

Also, I praise God that we are all okay. And our neighbors too. At one point last night I was in the pack-and-play in the basement, under the stairs with Elsie, Hattie and Alden. Rory and Ivar were standing right beside us. And I was trying to mentally prepare myself for laying on top of my three little kids in that little pack-and-play if things began whipping around us. That makes me emotional to type. Because it was that scary and it felt that possible.
Thankfully it didn't come to that. In the end, we lost the roof of our barn and many, many trees. We have a lot of clean up ahead, like everyone around us. But we are safe! We are still without power and at the moment my dad is watching the kids so I could get to a coffee shop to get these pictures up. I know that is so silly, but it felt important to me to get these up.
We have scripture covering the walls of the upstairs of our barn. And I loved reading them today. Each promise is as true this morning as it was last night as it was yesterday morning. God's Word never passes away.
Drop us a line if you're handy with a chainsaw. We'd be so grateful. Anytime over the next week, I'd imagine. There are so many places that need attention...
I've gotten the sheep back in their fence two times already today. And now I've given up! They can graze the garden and eat my raspberries. We have fences that need mending, apparently. And I like them wandering around. They are peaceful and quiet in the midst of all that is undone around them.
That's the half of the roof back in the woods. The other half is way further back. How in the world are we going to get that out? One day at a time. That's all I know! Rory ordered the roofing materials today and they said it will be many weeks before they come in.

Again, we are thankful to still have a barn. Thankful to have incredible neighbors and friends. My friend Jenna dropped off soup, bread and cookies at 9:30 this morning. We ate them immediately! Another friend JJ came with her kids and she watched my kids while her husband Alex started chainsawing with Rory. Rory's dad was here at 7:30 helping get the generator running. And my dad came this afternoon now. We've had neighbors stop by and other friends checking in. There is nothing like friendship and family in these moments. I feel that so profoundly right now. Thank you God for community and caring neighbors.